ATLANTA -- For the last couple of years, bills have been introduced at the Capitol that would allow Georgians to conceal and carry handguns without a permit. Supporters call it “constitutional carry.” The bills haven’t gone anywhere, but the Republican candidates for Governor are falling in line behind it.
"We don’t need a carry permit. The only thing we need as Americans is the US Constitution,” candidate Hunter Hill says in one of his commercials. Brian Kemp, a gun collector, is also a backer of "constitutional carry."
EXTENDED INTERVIEW | Interview with Casey Cagle on gun permits and 'constitutional carry'
But Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, the GOP front runner, has been more ambivalent about constitutional carry.
In response to a several questions about gun permits during an interview with 11Alive News three weeks ago, Cagle indicated he favors keeping the requirement for a permit to carry a gun.
See the full interview clip here.
Asked if he favors adjusting or eliminating the permit process, Cagle replied:
"No, I think that you have to have a vetting process to ensure that individuals can pass a background check, do not have a mental illness. Those issues have really been the law of the state. I think it’s important."
Asked "are there any further expansions of gun rights that you think need to happen?" Cagle replied succinctly: "Not in my opinion, no."
After that interview, Cagle clarified his position. He released a statement saying “I would support a smarter approach to eliminating the permit requirement for law-abiding gun owners, or Constitutional Carry."
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He added it would have to exclude “illegal aliens, convicted felons and people with severe mental illnesses. With those protections, we can do it," Cagle wrote.
Georgia voters appear to oppose constitutional carry. Our 11Alive poll released this week showed 84 percent of likely voters support keeping the permit requirement to carry a weapon.
The same poll shows that 79 percent Republicans answering that question support keeping in place the handgun permit process.